The Rays have been linked to several names as we near the July 31 free agency deadline. But the one name that lingers is Jayson Werth.
We learned earlier this week that the Phillies are pushing hard for Roy Oswalt, but that they would need to move Werth in order to make the move. Several people have said the Rays are the leading candidate to acquire Werth. But until now, we could only guess what the Phillies and Astros would want included in the three-team swap.
Now Jayson Stark reports that the Phillies asked the Rays for either BJ Upton or Wade Davis in exchange for Werth. We are guessing they got a quick “no.”
And Jon Heyman later added what we assumed yesterday, that the Rays would receive Werth in exchange for prospects that would go to Houston. However, there is still no word on what prospects are being requested.
So was Stark wrong? Not necessarily. The Phillies probably first came to the Rays wondering if they could get some big league talent in exchange for Werth. With the Rays obviously in the playoff hunt, that was probably quickly rebuked. At that point, Philadelphia may have realized the only way to make it work would be to send prospects from the Rays to the Astros.
But what prospects would the Astros want? Obviously they are asking for Desmond Jennings or Jeremy Hellickson. Our guess is that the Rays are offering two or three top pitching prospects from the lower levels (Nick Barnese? Alex Colome?).
Usually, by the time we hear a trade rumor, the Rays have already moved on to something else. But the more we hear Werth’s name, the more we believe this one has legs. Now it is just a matter of whether the other teams will come down to the Rays’ price. Because the Rays are not likely to go to theirs.
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24 Comments

  1. Thad says:

    Personally, I don't think Upton is such a high price to pay for a rental player in Werth especially if Rays could negotiate a mid-level prospect coming back in the deal. Upton's only going to get more expensive, his production is going the other way every year, he's a lightning rod for controversy. Trade Upton, bring up Jennings, plug Werth in RF and let's go. Would Jennings be a downgrade in 2H10 in CF at this point?

    Deep down, does anyone (including the Rays) REALLY think that Upton is going to turn it around and rediscover himself and blossom into the star that everyone thought he was going to be? The answer is NO. If Upton FINDS himself in some other city, then so be it. The Rays need a RH bat and Upton isn't it. He's a black hole at the plate. And has been for quite a while.

    IMO, the only reason the Rays haven't ALREADY done this deal is because they're working on a BETTER deal involving Upton that no one knows about.

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    • Stephanie says:

      With the Rays likely losing Craw to free agency, an Upton trade leaves the team with too many question marks in the outfield. They can't trade BJ unless/until they can find a suitable replacement.

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      • Thad says:

        They most certainly CAN trade BJ. Middling outfielders with avg to below avg offensive production are a dime a dozen. His defense makes a difference, but not THAT much. I'm not even convinced that Jennings is the long term solution, but I don't really care either. Joyce could play RF next year, maybe Zoby in LF and Rodriguez in CF or some platoon or Jennings or someone else. It doesn't matter, they can figure it out. OFs are not THAT hard to find. I'd take 50 year old Mike Cameron right now over BJ.

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        • Beth says:

          Thad, have you seen something in Matt Joyce that I've missed? What in his performance thus far makes you think he's an upgrade over Upton?

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          • Thad says:

            Joyce has only been active for what? A few weeks? I've seen what Upton has done over the past 5 years, and I'm willing to roll the dice that over a full year Joyce can hit better than .230 with much more power potential. Even in a platoon.

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          • Beth says:

            But Joyce has only been active part of the season because he's failed to do much in his other Rays appearances, and his AAA numbers are solid but hardly impressive. And he's actually older than BJ so I don't see a huge future learning curve.Look, I hope he turns out to be a the .275 hitter with reasonable power we thought we were getting, but I just haven't seen evidence.

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        • Stephanie says:

          I agree Upton can be replaced. I just don't think it is as easy as you make it sound.

          I'm fine with bringing in Werth (although he's been slumping for awhile) provided the cost isn't too high and I'm fine with trading Upton provided they have a reasonable replacement. I don't view any of their current players as an everyday center fielder, especially given that the Rays will be losing Crawford's great defense in left.

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          • Sublime says:

            Thad:

            I see that you're on this BJ hate-fest, but I'm agreeing with Stephanie, you seem to be looking at this from one direction, offensive. For every loss of focus that Upton has, he also makes hard defensive plays seem routine, you realize that when you see someone like Kapler and Zobrist completely F'ing up the position. So if CC and BJ are gone from this outfield, expect ERA's to go WAY UP!

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        • Wembley87 says:

          Zobrist LF and Sean CF .................. Dont like the sound of that at all .

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          • Indiana Rays Boy says:

            Wembley87, have you heard of Desmond Jennings? How about Joyce in LF, Jennings at CF and Zobrist in RF for 2011?

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  2. Matt says:

    Obviously the Rays won't offer Jennings or Hellickson for rental player. If this deal does get done, I could see Colome, Barnese, and possibly a hitter, like Kyeong Kang in Charlotte.

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    • Matt says:

      Another choice could be Jeff Francouer in New York. He's a little streaky but he plays good defense and he only 5 million for this year and his contract is up

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      • JR says:

        Streaky = Pat Burrel.

        I would like a power hitter, BUT what we really need is someone that will hit for avg....

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        • Matt says:

          Unfortunately, there aren't many of those guys available and the ones that are available, Friedman doesn't feel is a "good" fit for the team. I'm almost sure that this trade deadline will be no different than others, we aimed high, and came down with nothing. I also wouldn't be surprised to hear in a future headline, "Phils nearly acquire Oswalt, Rays back down on Werth"

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          • John S says:

            And I am ok with that...

            No reason to damage the foundation that got us here in the first place.
            For the Rays to be successful, we have to continue to maintain a strong system.

            Look for the trades to happen in the offseason with Shields, Bartlett and Upton in a package to bring back a really good OF or Blue Chip Prospect at Catcher, OF, 1B.

            This is team's foundation still has a higher upside than now and we will have a boatload of cash to spend on a couple positions. Remember Longo, Brignac, SRod, Joyce haven't even hit their prime years yet (starts at 27-28 years old for field players.

            Jennings will come into a good situation where he will not be required to be the man at the start. I would love for Upton to stay but we are not getting that much of an upgrade for Werth over Upton. Especially since Upton is under our control for a couple more years and Werth is for 2 months.

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  3. steve says:

    IMO the Rays were scouting Hunter Pence, not Oswalt or Berkman. Although not having the AllStar year he had in 2009, the Rays may be able to get him for some pitching prospects. I believe he is signed through 2011.

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  4. Alex says:

    They Rays are scared of BJ going to a competent coaching staff that will be able to turn his swing and his mind around. Guarantee it

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  5. Thad says:

    You people are nuts. Upton is NOT the player you think he is. He's an above avg. defensive CF with poor mechanics at the plate and a rotten/lazy work ethic. He's been given EVERY opportunity to succeed for the Rays but has consistently regressed offensively. I say trade NOW while there is some hope that he can turn it around and he's still relatively cheap. He has NEVER had the work ethic of a Crawford or Longoria. He's the last of the entitled Rays prospects and needs to be dealt now.

    The ENTIRE Phillies lineup is slumping right now and has slumped for two months. Werth's value lies in what he could do in a functioning lineup. As for the future, I stand by my belief that an OF in MLB can be filled out with platoons, prospects and other parts. The CORE Rays are locked up and will be under control for many years. The supplemental pieces in the OF can be pieced together down the road.

    And finally, the Rays management is ON RECORD as saying THIS IS THE YEAR to compete. I say you do what you can to win THIS YEAR, and worry about 2011 and 2012 in the offseason. The Rays will NEVER mortgage all of the future for this year, and I don't think they need to either to improve their club this year. Upton is being shopped by the Rays for a reason.

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    • Stephanie says:

      My opinion of Upton isn't that different from yours. I have no problem with making 2010 the year they go for it--I'm all for it, in fact. But who plays CF if they trade BJ? I don't like any of the options. Maybe they can get by with what they have...

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  6. Alex says:

    Anyone is better than BJ in the outfield at this point.

    Did anyone happen to notice that Werth is batting .189 with runners in scoring position? That may be a result of their poor offense but yikes

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  7. Matt says:

    But compare that to B.J.'s numbers. They cant be much higher.

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  8. Thad says:

    Look, there's no doubt I'm down on BJ (wait that didn't come out right) and maybe irrationally so. But I'm sick of his whole package. I'm willing to sacrifice a LITTLEdefense for someone who cares. I'm not talking abt throwing Adam Dunn in CF. I think EVEN BJ uses his defensive ability as a crutch not to get better in other areas. Honestly, I think his whole problem is he just doesn't like baseball that much. He sure doesn't act like he does

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    • Stephanie says:

      Fair enough. I'm not opposed to trading Upton as long as they are realistic about the impact on the team. Both Upton and the Rays may be better off in the long run if he is playing somewhere else.

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